Monument Valley is truely one of the most magnificent wonders of the West. You have seen it if you have watched any of the classic western movies. While true John Ford shot many movies here; you would be surprised of some of the others. In 1939 John Ford shot STAGECOACH followed by other great westerns, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON 1949, THE SEARCHERS 1956. All in all John Ford shot about ninteen movies here. You might be surprised that others were shot here too.
Forrest Gump Stagecoach The Eiger Saction
The list of movies and TV shows is almost endless: Thelma and Lousise, Back To the Future III, Mission Impossible II, The Lone Ranger, A Space Odyssey
National Lampoons Vaction, so many more. TV: McGyver, Airwolf and others. Print Ads include The Marlboro Man.
Monument Valley has been the iconic place to lens any subject that revoles around "The West"
My favorites remain those movies of John Ford. In my mind if you speak of the West the images of John Wayne, Ward Bond, Maureen O'Hara Henry Fonda are formost.
hirintMonument Valley is located in the SE corner of Utah. Very close to the Four Corners. Here is where four States share a common border, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Monument Valley with the magnificent mesas, arches and buttes offer the visitor a grand view. Don't discount the night sky here either. Well worth staying into the dark of night to see the Milky Way and the wonderful display of stars. Be sure to drive the sevemteen mile road. Located just to the left of the parking lot. This dirt road will take you passed many of the "monuments". The road can be rough in areas and low clearence cars and RV greater then 20 feet are discouraged. Also I recommend hiring a Navajo guide to take you into the back country and is well worth it. Here you can get sunrise photos of the Totem Pole, The Dunes and many other areas not possible without being in the backcountry. The guides can be found at the hut in the main parking lot.
Sunrise at Totem Pole
Although these hand made rugs bring a high price, they are beautiful and will last a life time.
Turtle Rock Hogan Rug Weaving
Where to stay. There is the town Kayenta 24 miles South of Monument Valley that has a few motels; but in my opion the only place to stay is rich with history and a great place - GOULDING'S LODGE.
GOULDING'S has it all, from a grand hotel to RV and tent camping a gas station, the grocery store
even a car wash; oh and an airport! Here too you can book a guided tour of the area. This is well worth doing. Not only will you see the sights but the driver will give you the history as well. I have stayed at the RV area and the hotel. On this trip I had a two bedroom suite in the Hillside Suites.
Standing alone each with a living room and a nice kitchen area as well as a great view from the patio.
GOULDING'S has a rich history. Originally established in the 1920's by Harry Goulding and his wife Leone. In the early years of the "Trading Post" they lived in tents. After a few years the permanet building was constructed. The musem is housed in the original building. Things got a bit rough in the Great Depression and it was the "gold" of Hollywood movie production that saved Gouldings.
The first film was John Ford's STAGECOUCH staring John Wayne. Since then many movies have been shot here.
Whether you drive, RV, ride or fly GOULDINDS is the place to stay!
Inside the museum Old Tour Truck
Across the highway is the Navaho Visitor Center. Museum Gift Shop and the View Hotel. Take time
to wonder through the museum and learn of the Navaho Nation, Also there is a fine showcase of
the World War II Navaho Code Talkers.
It's a short drive to Moab from Durango. Shorter still if you stop to spend the day at Mesa Verde.
Anytime is a good time to crawl or drive around Moab; anytime but Summer! Summer is crowded
and hot! Be sure to carry lots of water with you and on you if you are going to hike around during the summer. If lucky, in winter you may find snow. With snow on the ground it gives your photography a great blanket of white to contrast agaist the rock.
As you come into Moab from the north, the Arches NP is on your left about a mile from town. Best time for photography is
early morning or late afternoon. Many motels and campgrounds in Moab. Peak seasons the motels are expensive.
One of the best RV campgrounds is on your right as you approach the town. Slickrock offers some outstanding camp
sites; but get there early to stake one out for they fill up fast.
Arches National Park is over 76,000 acres. Arches NP contains the world's largest collection of natural stone arches. Along with the arches are the fins, bridges, pinnacles, and balanced rocks. Some of the most popular stops are Park Avenue, The Courthouse, and ablout half way into the park is the Balanced Rock. Don't be to hasty to hurry through; some of the best viewing can be at dusk or the dead of night. i
Photo: Courtesy www.dangerousroads.org
After a mid-morning shoot and stopping for lunch in Moab, I engaged a local police sargent for information of trails and camping that may not be so well known. Being an avid off-roader, one of the places he likes he told me about: Yep, he said go on up north out of town and turn on this road along the river, pass the potash plant and enjoy. Now I don't recall if he said: be sure to stay away from Safter Trail or not. He may have mentioned at the "trail intersecton" go to the left - White Rim. I dont know. At any rate I went right. The photos above shows you what the Shafter Trail looks like. The video below will give you a feel for the entire journey.
After the fact and looking for precise information for this blog I ran across www.dangerousroads.org. Kinda wish I had seen this before I turned "right"! Here is what the website has to say:
"Safter Trail Road -Shafer Canyon Road is 18 miles of dirt track that requirs extreme caution at
the best of times. This road has humbled many egos. It's not for the sissies and shouldn't be
attempted by novice drivers. Be prepared to self-rescue (I have to add here - what rescue if you
just fell 1,000 feet off the cliff!) A 4WD vehicle and experienced driver are recommended. Avoid
driving if unpaved mountain roads aren't your strong point. Stay away if you're scared of heights.
There are sheer drops virtually along the entire route and enough hairpins to make a whirling
dervish dizzy. A quick glance at the map at its sheer drops and serpentine twists and turns
confirms that this is no hype."
If you can take your eyes off the road, you will be rewarded with beautiful vistas.
OK, maybe it is not the "pucker factor" that I have presented. In most days you can drive Shafer Trail in just about any car. It is true if you are skittish about heights - don't do it. I know people that will not drive Highway One on the California Coast, or "The Million Dollar Highway" (Hwy 550) between Ouray, Colorado and Silverton. Shafer Trail is not for the faint of heart.
my breakfast is always the
"Breakfast Burrito" -
Mesa Verde National Park located near Cortez, CO and is off highway 160. Roughy 40 miles from Durango, CO and avout 10 miles from Cortez, CO. This was the home of what we know as the Paleo-Indians., they were known as the Anasazi from the Navaho meaning ancient. These people established their life here around 7500BC; however what we know as the "Cliff Dwellers" did not appear until the late 12th Century. By 1300 the Cliff dwellings could have been marketed as "available". They had been abanded. Speculation ranges from lack of water, to the scarcity of game or perhaps being driven out by hostle indians.
The Cliff Dwellings range in size from single rooms to what is above - The Cliff Palace - over 150 rooms and about one hundred people.. In my opinion this is the one to visit. Tour tickets are required and can be purchased at the visitor center at the Park's enterence. Tours are about an hour in length. The climbing down can be a bit of a challenge should you have any knee issues or other health issues.
I have visited Mesa Verde a few times over the years and have stayed in Cortez simply because it is the closest to the Park. On this trip I stayed at the Baymont Inn and Suites. This is a wonderful place to staty. Offering large and comfortable rooms and everything you would like to find after a long day climbing and exploring, enjoy the pool and the hot tub to ease the stress of the day!
While staying at the Baymont Inn and Suites I would recommend for a great dinner, the Distination Grill. Basicly across the parking lot of the hotel.
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